DRA Lawsuit Dismissed

The Deschutes River Alliance has argued for years that PGE/CTWS’s attempt to reintroduce anadromous fish into the upper Deschutes Basin has harmed the Deschutes River below the Pelton Round Butte complex of dams.  As part of their advocacy the DRA brought a lawsuit against PGE/CTWS claiming that the project violated the Clean Water Act.  On Monday the suit was dismissed for lacking “material fact”.  Read More »

SWW juvenile outmigration

Most anadromous smolts outmigrate in the spring.  While a few stragglers may still move through the system over the remainder of the year, at this point we have a pretty complete count of this year’s totals for fish moving from the Crooked, Metolius, and upper Deschutes rivers to the Selective Water Withdrawal tower in Lake Billy Chinook where they are captured and then released into the lower Deschutes.

 

2013

2014

2015

2016

2017

2018

CHS

21,261

19,071

15,418

16,997

29,785

19,965

STS

2,733

2,127

3,702

4,024

10,708

8,881

SOC

25,265

155,031

38,702

49,497

439,458

47,392

CHS are chinook, STS are steelhead, and SOC are sockeye.  There’s some good news and some bad news in these figures.Read More »

Deschutes River Alliance water quality study

The Deschutes River Alliance recently released their 2017 lower Deschutes water quality study.  I admire their continued efforts to be stewards of the lower Deschutes.  I also remain critical of their work and have a simple question: if the water quality of the lower Deschutes is so bad then why are the fish so healthy and abundant?  As an angler, that’s what I really care about.  Perhaps the DRA should spend more time studying the fish and less time speculating about what may or may not happen to them based on their views of water quality.Read More »

Whychus Creek status

Camp Polk Meadow

(I stole the photo of Camp Polk Meadow Preserve and Whychus Creek from the Deschutes Land Trust website.  Photo credit: Russ McMillan.)

When the reintroduction effort began a major focus was the restoration of Whychus Creek, a tributary of the middle Deschutes.  The thought was that steelhead in particular would target Whychus as they are not native to the Metolius and the Crooked River is blocked by Opal Springs Dam.  Restoring Whychus Creek would also provide dramatically improved habitat for wild, native species, in particular redband trout.  This restoration effort was spearheaded by the Deschutes Partnership who purchased sections of the creek for restoration, worked on restoring flows, and performed habitat improvement, along with state and federal agencies.  It was and continues to be a long-term, expensive effort.  Some progress has been made but there’s still a long way to go.Read More »

Lower Deschutes fish populations & health

At last week’s fisheries workshop, ODFW gave their annual report of fisheries  population and health for the lower Deschutes.  Since the 1970s they have been electrofishing the same stretches from Warm Springs to Jones Creek.  As reported in past years, trout continue to be in excellent health.  Condition factors were good before operation of the SWW and they are at least as good now.  If anything, the fish appear to be growing faster and are larger.Read More »

Bull trout and kokanee in Lake Billy Chinook

20170415_102317

Slightly off topic for this blog, but I was frustrated with multiple fly fishing trips for bull trout at LBC this spring.  The photo is of one of my sons from last spring when big fish like this were common.  This spring they were nonexistent.  I contacted the fisheries biologists at PGE and they said they had no evidence of a population drop and shared a chart of redd spawning surveys in Metolius tributaries which continued to show a robust population.Read More »